Does that title have you thinking? I hope so. It sure has had me thinking a lot this past week. My constant prayer throughout my life has been for my experiences to not go in vain. My failures, my mistakes, my pain— I want none of it to go in vain. If they can help anyone to avoid the pitfalls I’ve fallen into or bring some measure of comfort, then it was all worth it.
So, I pose that question to you now. Where does suffering take you? Does it take you to darker places? Does it take you to higher places? Closer to God and others or further away? Does it lead you to live with even greater fervor and passion, or to decay inside? I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. When I find myself slipping into the decay and darkness, the reminder that I am not an accident and that nothing I do has to be in vain pulls me back.
In Victor Frankl’s highly acclaimed book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” he describes his psychotherapeutic method of finding purpose in suffering to overcome it. Frankl was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp— it doesn’t get any more miserable than that. Finding his purpose helped to bring him through the pain. It can do the same for you.
Now let me put out this disclaimer, finding a purpose for your pain is not easy or even clear. It is a messy, hard, and strenuous process. You have to pray and seek really hard, but the good news is that you can find one if you look hard enough. Someone can use the wisdom you’ve gained. Someone can use the hope you have to offer from surviving your suffering. Yes my friend, you are a beacon amidst the darkness in the world even if you feel darkness consuming you. Light, life, and love still shine. Suffering, despair, anxiety, anger, and hurt can not extinguish it. It can only be extinguished if you decide to not put it to use.
I have used my suffering to fuel my creative passion. It has reignited my passion for this blog and has led to me writing some of my best poems (well, I think so anyway). It has made me more determined than ever to bring relief to others and tell my story. I want to be there for my loved ones and my neighbors. I want it to be said of me like Job at the end of his life (Job 42:17) , “That I died an old man and full of days.” The sufferings, the trials, the toil, and the tears will all add to this rich story Almighty God is writing for his glory and my ultimate good. My life is not lived in vain, and neither is yours.
“What is to give light must endure burning.”
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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay